Afghan activist says Taliban have no choice but to listen to women
The Channel News Asia reported, a leading rights activist said, the Taliban will have no choice other than to bend to the demands of Afghan women if they want to escape economic collapse and diplomatic isolation.
Seventy-three-year-old Mahbouba Seraj decided not to flee Kabul last month when the Taliban seized back power, two decades after they were ousted.
Instead, from her home in Kabul, she has followed the Taliban's mixed messages, trying to decipher what lies ahead for the women of her country whom she has dedicated her life to.
She says: "This is becoming like a nightmare for everybody."
The Channel News Asia mentioned, the Taliban have incrementally stripped away freedoms for women - excluding girls from secondary school, telling working women to stay home and unveiling an all-male government.
It added, the Taliban claim it is only temporary, but many are distrustful and recognise a repeat of history unfolding.
Mahbouba Seraj said from her home in Kabul: "The first time, the Taliban had the same excuse, they said: 'Wait, we'll fix it for you."
"We waited for six years and it never came. There is no trust (in the Taliban) amongst the women of Afghanistan."
Many women, she says, are confused and under severe pressure, frightened to leave their homes and face Taliban harassment.
Still, she admits to being optimistic, sure that the Taliban will be forced to adjust if they want to remain in power.
There are signs of some changes - women can still be seen on the streets, many are still wearing headscarves instead of the all encompassing burqa and some forms of university education can continue, though under segregation.
She said: "It's not Afghanistan of the 90s any more, this Afghanistan is different."
"I really believe changes are going to happen. There is no other way, and the Taliban should realise it."